Monday, December 11, 2006

Japan's comparative advantage?

Reuters has a story today on Japan's booming "elderly services" industry. As I've written before in this space -- and noted in a number of conversations -- Japan may be poised to reap an enormous economic windfall not only from its own "greying," but from the greying of the world, include its soon-to-be-considerably-older neighbor, China.

As this article suggests, companies are only scratching the surface in catering to Japan's elderly. How long, for example, before household robots become as common as cars, serving as helpers and caretakers for the elderly? Will personal robots soon crowd Japan's grocery store aisles? This might be one possibly far-fetched example, but the Reuters article points to the need for companies to change as consumers age and their tastes and demands change.

As such, the question is whether Japan -- with the world's first geronto-capitalist economy -- will be able to use this unusual head-start on a global trend to remain a top-tier power.

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